Monday, July 24, 2017

During my two years as a Resident Assistant at the University of Iowa, I found solace in knowing that if a resident shared with me that they were sexually assaulted, there would be a place to turn for free, confidential support. That place was RVAP. When I was Student Body President, I learned even more about the incredible, life-saving work that RVAP does on campus, in the Iowa City community, and across the state of Iowa. With organizations like RVAP, we can build a future for college students and people everywhere that is free from sexual violence. I hope you will consider making a donation to this campaign to save vital RVAP services. I cannot imagine a more worthy cause.

RVAP provides validation, belief, and security for survivors of sexual violence. The amazing people at RVAP provide culturally competent resources and supportive community for students and people across Iowa during their hardest times. The organization also does preventive work through outreach on college campuses, in K-12 schools, and everywhere in between to teach people about consent, healthy relationships, and recovery. RVAP believes that we can end sexual violence and is working toward that future every single day.

You’ve probably heard the statistics: one in four college women will be sexually assaulted. According to the 2015 University of Iowa campus climate survey, 21% of undergraduate female students report being raped. Research tells us that these survivors are more likely to suffer academically, consider leaving school, and face mental health challenges such as depression and PTSD. For these survivors, RVAP can be a life-saving resource that helps them graduate and reach their full potential.

By fully defunding the Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline and cutting RVAP, the Iowa Legislature made a values-based decision that I do not think reflects the values and priorities of Iowans. If our budget priorities do not protect survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, who do they protect? I am supporting this campaign because I will do anything it takes to ensure no survivor goes without the support they need. If our elected officials will not provide those resources, we will fundraise them ourselves.

It is disheartening to witness the Iowa Legislature's defunding of critical survivor-support services, right as I began to feel we were making progress on the issue of campus sexual assault. Yet, now we have an opportunity to step up and demand better of our elected officials and ourselves. In addition to calling your legislators to ask that they fight for survivors of sexual violence, I hope you will consider making a donation to this campaign to save vital RVAP services.

Support RVAP now

Rachel Zuckerman
University of Iowa '17